Sustainable and Ethical Wedding Trends for 2023

As we enter 2023, more consumers worldwide are looking for ways to limit their carbon footprint with everything they do, including at their weddings and receptions. Many couples are forgoing the customs of renting a venue, throwing rice, and sending out paper invitations in lieu of new sustainable and ethical traditions.

Guest post by Katie Brenneman. Photo by Micheile Henderson.

You may hear the words “sustainable” and “ethical” and think it’s too complex to deal with but don’t fret. There are many different and simple actions you can take to enjoy your special day and help the planet all at once.

To get you started, we have some ideas that will make a whole world of difference. Such as how to find an eco-friendly venue, steps to reduce energy usage during the event, and ideas for finding sustainable fashions, among other essential tips.

Setting the Venue

One of the first things you should do is set a venue for the wedding. Do this step as early as possible so your location does not get booked up before you get a chance. When it comes to sustainable functions, your best bet is to have the nuptials outside because you’ll reduce the electricity you’d typically need to keep the lights on and power the electronics inside the venue. You have several options for outdoor weddings and receptions, including:


  • The beach
  • Backyard
  • City park
  • Friend’s house
  • Golf course


Many indoor venues also have accompanying space outside so that you can set up all of the chairs and the decorations on the lawn. Then, if it rains or someone needs to go indoors for an emergency, there’s also an interior space immediately available.

The venue you choose may also depend on your wedding budget. You’ll likely need a permit wherever you go. Different locations may cost more than others (a golf course may cost more than the beach) and potentially have extra costs. The amazing background of a wedding set at the beach or a nature preserve may be so picturesque that you don’t need to buy many other decorations, which can also help to save money.

If you or a family member has a large yard, consider having your wedding and reception there for ultimate cost savings. Couples going this route will need to make some considerations along the way, including ensuring there’s enough seating and having a plan for if it starts raining.

It’s also essential to keep bugs and pets out of your home when so many things at a wedding can attract them, including unsealed food, hot temperatures and high humidity, and the lighting that typically attracts moths and gnats. In addition to being unsightly and unattractive in wedding photos, pests can also spread disease, and you don’t want to be responsible for any of your guests getting sick.


Buying the Dress, Decorations, and the Ring

With the venue secured, you can continue your ethical ways by shopping for the most important components of the wedding, like the outfits and the rings. One of the trends of 2023 is buying eco-friendly dresses.

This strategy is very environmentally friendly because when you buy your gown second-hand at a thrift store or online from a previous owner instead of buying new, you prevent the need for factories to work overtime to produce new dresses. Factories and warehouses require a lot of energy and make a ton of harmful fossil fuels, which rise into the atmosphere. Once trapped there, they reflect the heat back down the planet, which creates the phenomenon of global warming.

There are other ways to find or buy a sustainable dress but they will take some legwork. Look online for a custom-made dressmaker. Many pride themselves on producing gowns with fabrics from recyclable, biodegradable, or plant-based materials so shop there. At the very minimum, if you must buy a new dress, look for something local. Then, you eliminate the need for pollution-creating trucks to transport a gown from across the country or another state.

These days, just about everything you can buy has some sustainable or eco-friendly equivalent, including wedding decorations. Once again, smart strategies when buying decorations reduce the need for factories to create unnecessary pollution, so head to the thrift store and scan the shelves. Take it one shelf at a time and look for fabrics, centerpieces, and previously-used wedding decor.

You can also go on websites like Craigslist, where people often sell the decorations they used for their weddings for cheap. You can also try upcycling to create your decor by painting and using glass jars and wine bottles for centerpieces. 


Finally, think about the ring. While diamonds may be gorgeous, you need to consider where they are sourced. In many cases, diamonds and other jewels come from countries where child labor is enforced, and environmental policies are basically non-existent. The good news is that you can find lab-created diamonds that are eco-friendly and look just like the real deal. Instead of mining them, manufacturers create them in a sustainable environment, so look for manufacturers like Lark and Berry, and Brilliant Earth.


Make Your Outdoor Wedding Even More Sustainable

Now that you’re going with an outdoor venue and thinking creatively about how to reduce energy usage in an indoor space, you can implement several other tactics to make the nuptials even more sustainable. Start by ditching the paper invitations and instead go with electronic invites that are faster and cleaner. Plus, you can typically fit a lot more information in an email than in the mailbox, making sending messages back and forth easier. When paper invitations are all that will do, at least purchase invites made of recycled materials.

Think about transportation for you and your guests and find the most eco-friendly options. One idea is to encourage carpooling to the wedding and between the ceremony and the reception. If your guests don’t know each other, take it upon yourself to team up folks who live in close proximity and who you believe would get along. 

Couples that like the idea of taking a limo to the reception or the hotel for their honeymoon can consider taking an eclectic vehicle. Almost every vehicle has an electric alternative these days, even limousines, so consider renting one and get to your destination in style while knowing that you’re helping the planet.

With so many decorations, plates, cups, and potential confetti flying around, you must have a proper waste disposal plan in place. Look into the use of skip bins, which are large containers that keep all of the garbage in one place. This solution is much easier than having numerous garbage cans sitting around, and you can put it behind a wall so the sight of it doesn’t take you or your guests out of the moment. Along with the skip bins, you should have several recycling stations throughout the venue so everything can be disposed of in the right place.

If you hire a bartender or food service company for your wedding, consider promoting a cashless system where guests pay with cards and apps like PayPal. This is a good solution for folks who typically don’t carry cash. It can eliminate the need for paper receipts and the loss of paper money. This is a smart solution that will create shorter wait times and overall happier guests.


These are just a handful of the many sustainable and ethical wedding trends for 2023, and your eco-friendliness is only limited by your imagination. Consider the tips discussed here and keep an eye on your local thrift store. You can feel good knowing that your ceremony is lovely and beneficial to the planet.



Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!